Eliud Kipchoge is a champion who loves being challenged.
He became the first man to break the two-hour barrier over marathon distance.
At the Tokyo Games, Kipchoge became only the third man in Olympic history to capture back-to-back marathon titles.
The world marathon record holder now wants to push his limits to test how far he can run after his unrivalled successes over 42.195km.
“After leaving the marathon I want to run the ultramarathons, just to feel how it is to run over for four or five days…or even running once for 70km,” he he told The Training For Ultra Podcast.
I really want to feel the pain of running for a long time!
That should be an interesting test for Kipchoge, who has no known marathon plans for the remainder of 2021.
The marathon challenges
After a successful career on track winning two Olympic medals and two world titles, Eliud Kipchoge made his marathon debut in Hamburg in 2013.
He won the race in a 2:05.30, a course record that remains unbeaten to date.
Since then "it has been a beautiful journey" over the marathon course for the 36-year-old.
He finished second at the Berlin Marathon in 2014 and went unbeaten over 11 races after that.
Kipchoge holds the world marathon record that stands at 2:01:39, set in Berlin in 2018, and is also the only man to have completed the distance in under two hours – doing so in a special 2019 race in Vienna dubbed the INEOS 1:59 Challenge.
Last October, he suffered his first loss over 42km in seven years at the London Marathon.
“It’s not the end of everything,” he said of his career losses.
“Every failure you treat as a challenge. Today you are up, tomorrow down...that’s a challenge! So, the only thing, we get up and stand and move again.”
As expected, Kipchoge bounced back with some "beautiful" running to capture his second Olympic marathon title at the Tokyo Games.
He followed in the footsteps of Ethiopia's Abebe Bikila and East Germany's Waldemar Cierpinski as repeat Olympic marathon champions and cemented his position as the greatest distance runner of all time.
'Running for 70km'
He now has bolder and longer racing plans.
"I really want to feel the pain of running for a long time", he says on the podcast.
And how does a man who has won 13 of the 15 major marathons in his career define pain?
“I can define pain as a situation where you are trying to stretch your limits. The more you stretch the more you get pain and that’s where success is,” Kipchoge – who loves long runs – explained.
“I always push my body especially in the long run…to feel the pain more. But I enjoy pushing my body and knowing that I am hitting the target.”
For now, there are no actual timelines on when he hopes to make his ultramarathon debut, but he has an idea of where he will try out his new task.
“I’ve never actually thought of pushing the limits in less than the marathon, maybe in future I can… I want to try to run most of the long races in South Africa (and) in America,” he continued, adding that he always wants to do more.
You can be sure we will still get to see his trademark smile when he crosses the finish line of his multi-day runs.
“I don’t think it’s hard (to smile). It's natural and it’s the only way to enjoy running and forget what’s happening on your body and allow me to focus on what’s ahead of me.”
And how does he learn to believe in himself and in his abilities?
“Believing in yourself is the best value for all humans, it’s the only way you can go places.
"Believing in yourself in anything in this world is a plus, gives you the confidence, gives you an extra mile and that’s what I try to do in every situation I encounter.”
For now, Kipchoge remains committed to what he says is "the ultimate running event" – his current love.
Marathon is life. The future of the world is the marathon.
"I value the marathon, that’s why I put all my mind to run under two hours. Many people will be venturing in the marathon, it’s because that’s where the future is.”